The NFL often boasts about its parity, about its competitive league, but how much parity is there in the NFL today?
Are the Steelers the exception to the rule? They have to be: They are one win away from winning their seventh—yes, seventh—Super Bowl title.
They have won the AFC a total of eight different times, along with 20 division titles. Can you say consistency?
A lot of people are going to start to talk about the Patriots, but can we really put them at the Steelers' level? I will not deny the success that the Patriots have had in the last decade, but with the Steelers we are talking over a 40-year period of consistency.
The 49ers were the team of the '80s and were THE model franchise, but they are currently irrelevant. The Cowboys were the team of the '90s but have won one playoff game in the last decade.
This team started out as the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1933 and endured over 40 years of losing, but then the '70s hit. This team has been THE model franchise when it comes to winning.
What exactly is the key to their success? Is it the owners? Is it due to the fans demanding a competitive team every year?
It is a mixture of both. The Steelers have been very consistent at the head coach position since Chuck Noll took over in 1969. They have had only three head coaches since 1969, each delivering them a Super Bowl.
The Rooney family is also very patient with its team. Noll and Bill Cowher are among the longest-tenured coaches in league history. Most NFL teams today do not have the same patience that the Steelers organization has and instead search for a quick fix to all of their problems.
The Rooney family has also been very patient with its embattled quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. We all know the mess that he has been through the last three years, yet the Rooney family decided to give him additional opportunities.
The fans also make the team what it is today. In 2008, ESPN ranked them as the best fans in the NFL. They have a consecutive sellout streak that exceeds 300. This is also impressive considering that Pittsburgh has a high number of sports teams in the vicinity, but none more famous than the beloved Steelers.
So what is the NFL talking about when it boasts about parity in the NFL? I see no parity, I see the Steelers winning year in and year out, and with the core of players they currently have, I see them winning a lot more. Once again, the Steelers might be the exception to this rule.